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Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield

Inconveniently located in neither Wilson’s Creek, Mo., nor Battlefield, Mo., this national park is still more than worthy of a visit. About 15 miles southwest of Springfield, the park is a natural and historical breath of fresh air on a visit to one of the stalest, ugliest cities in the nation, perhaps the world.

Fought on August 10, 1861, Wilson’s Creek was the second major skirmish of the Civil War and the first major battle fought west of the Mississippi River. A bloody mess, the battle was considered a Southern victory, in large part because of the death on the field of Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union general killed in action.

You can easily spend a morning or afternoon here, strolling through the museum with more than 5,000 artifacts and a nice visual recreation, then driving the eight-stop self-guided auto tour.

Other than the Gateway Arch, Wilson’s Creek is the closest destination for St. Louisans who want to celebrate the centennial of the National Park System.

 

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Maramec Spring

Finding Maramec Spring is just the beginning of discovery of this hidden gem less than 100 miles southwest of St. Louis near St. James. Next comes peeling away the layers of history, conservation, management and unspoiled beauty to discover on foot or in your car.

History

Originally home to the Shawnee, the region around Maramec Spring became property of Thomas James, a banker in Ohio, who saw potential profit in the area’s mineral deposits to be refined using the water power of the spring in the 1820s. The iron forged thrived through the 1870s. James’ granddaughter turned the land over to a trust, which holds it today. The remnants of the forge have been left in place. The rust provides a perfect contrast to the green of the forest and the blue of the spring water.

Fishing

The Missouri Department of Conservation maintains a trout hatchery and allows year-round fishing in areas of the park. The department has divided sections near the spring into pools where visitoris can feed the trout, allowing to develop before being released.

Hiking

Not exactly rigorous around the spring and forgery ruins, which makes the area ideal for families and picnickers. Feeling adventurous? Try the road that leads to the top of the hills for a nice overlook, particularly in the fall.

Getting there
  1. Take Interstate 44 west to St. James, exit 195
  2. Head northeast on Missouri Highway 68.
  3. Take the first right onto eastbound Missouri Highway 8. Continue for 6.9 miles.
  4. Turn left onto Maramec Spring Drive.

For more information, check the park’s web site.